Smoke & Films

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has released its yearly review on smoking in the films. Overall tobacco occurrences per film increased 7 percent from 2010 to 2011, it said, ending five years of decrease. Incidents increased 34 percent per movie rated G, PG or PG-13 and 7 percent per R-rated film.

In 2011, films for youth provided 10.7 billion tobacco impressions in theatrical release. In 2010 the number was 5.5 billion. These films in 2011 provided 68 percent of all in-theater tobacco impressions (10.7 billion out of 15.9 billion) in contrast to 39 percent (5.5 billion out of 14.2 billion) in such movies in 2010.

Smoking Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet smoking in Romance & Cigarettes movie

To monitor tobacco scenes in films, Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, a project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails numbers appearances of tobacco “incidents” in movies annually. It uses qualified monitors to calculate tobacco occurrences in all films that are among the 10 top-grossing films in any week (83 percent of all movies showed in the United States and 98 percent of tickets sold in 2002–2008).

The CDC measured impressions for each movie by spreading tickets sold for the movie by the number of occurrences. Tickets sold were measured by separating the local box office gross receipts revealed for the movie by the average U.S. ticket price in the year the movie was launched. It compared final results in 2011 with 2010 and with long-term trends.

In 2011, in 134 films, the entire number of tobacco occurrences increased 3 percent (from 1,819 to 1,881) from 2010 to 2011 despite there being five fewer films in the 2011 sample than the 139 in 2010. In general, the number of tobacco occurrences per film raised 7 percent (from 13.1 to 14.0).

Changes varied by MPAA rating. Occurrences per G and PG film rose 311 percent (from 0.8 to 3.2) and per PG-13 film, 9 percent (from 10.7 to 11.6); tobacco occurrences per youth-rated film (G, PG, and PG-13 combined) increased 34 percent (from 6.5 to 8.8). Occurrences per R-rated film rose 7 percent (26.0 to 27.8).

Cigarette brands persisted to appear in top-grossing films in 2011: Marlboro, Camel, and Kool were smoked by the major actors and a supporting actor in five top-grossing films (4R rated, 1 PG-13 rated), all distributed by Sony. In 2010, cigarette brands such as Marlboro, Camel, Winston and Newport made an appearance on billboards in 4 top-grossing films (3 R rated, 1 PG rated).

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